“Baby Blues” or Post-Partum Depression?

By Amy Meyers Steinberg

SONY DSCWhen I was pregnant I couldn’t wait for my baby to be born, to hold her, bond with her.  I thought it would be a natural transition, given how excited I was.  But, it didn’t happen quite how I expected.  After a four day hospital stay due to a C-section, we headed home.  With family helping out the first two weeks or so, it wasn’t too bad.  But once I was alone, it was harder than I imagined and I felt sad.  I had the “baby blues.”  Or so I thought.

Experts will tell you that feeling sad and tearful after having a baby is pretty common.  Your hormones are unbalanced, you’re tired and, if you are a first time mom, well, you’re new at this so you are probably feeling some anxiety and even helpless at times.  Most moms will get the hang of things and settle into routines within the first few weeks.  Common symptoms of the baby blues include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Decreased concentration
  • Trouble sleeping

However, some women continue to feel anxious, sad and hopeless well beyond the normal timeframe, especially if you have a history of anxiety or depression. If the symptoms listed above last more than three weeks, you could be suffering from post-partum depression.  While symptoms for both conditions are quite similar, post-partum depression is much more serious and lasts significantly longer.  Signs of post-partum depression include:

  • Negative feelings towards your baby
  • Concern that you will hurt your baby
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

These red flags should not be ignored.  Talk to your doctor (internist, obstetrician or even the pediatrician).  JCS has trained professionals who can guide you as you work through the anxiety and hopelessness you may be feeling.  A psychiatrist can also help by finding the right medications to help balance things out.  Anti-depressants were my saving grace.  While there has been some stigma related to taking such medications, they truly do help.

Post-partum can happen to anyone, even the rich and famous.  Many celebrities have opened up about their experiences. In 2001, Marie Osmond wrote a memoir Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression.  My daughter was born in 2002 and upon realizing my post-partum depression, I read Marie’s book and found it to be quite helpful.  Brooke Shields went public with her post-partum depression experience and how the use of anti-depressants helped her get through it.  Although I was no longer suffering from post-partum, I read her book, Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, and could totally relate.

So, is it the baby blues or post-partum depression?  Take the time to learn more about both conditions by visiting sites like www.helpguide.org/mental/postpartum_depression.htm and www.mayoclinic.org. Either way, JCS can help with your emotional well- being.  Call 410-466-9200 to make your appointment today.

amymeyerssteinbergBy Amy Meyers Steinberg, Marketing Specialist, JCS

Questions about parenting?  Send an email to parenttalk@jcsbaltimore.org.  For more information on parenting click here or call 410-466-9200.

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